A total of nine formal offers to buy the Granville Cinema in Ramsgate have been made to Thanet council.
Four offers, including one from Kent Film Foundation, have not made the shortlist.
Five other bids will now go forward for interviews with a panel.
The freehold for the building is owned by Thanet council. The council took formal possession of the venue in May last year after the impact of covid left the Granville Theatre Ltd team – who had been running the site – with no option but to relinquish it. The venue had been shut since the start of the pandemic.
In October 2021 Thanet council invited expressions of interest from eligible community groups to become the new owners the theatre, which was designated as an asset of community value in October 2019. A submission from Kent Film Foundation was rejected as not meeting the relevant criteria.
At a council meeting in March Cabinet Member for Economic Development Cllr Reece Pugh said: “The KFF submission did not provide adequate designs or costings for refurbishment of the building and lacked proof of funding and a realistic business plan.”
The foundation, whose bid was backed with a cash offer, wanted to create a new arts centre with workshop space, cinema, theatre, a bee-friendly roof terrace, the town’s first organic restaurant – and a new name The Sandcastle.
The council then put the site on the open market through Miles & Barr Commercial with all offers reviewed after the June 27 deadline.
An update from Thanet council states: “Miles & Barr Commercial was appointed to market the Granville Theatre for sale, to ensure that the building could be fully refurbished by new owners and given a new lease of life as a venue for community activity.
“A total of 24 property viewings were held, and nine formal offers were received.
“All of the offers received have now been reviewed according to a robust evaluation scheme which looked at the financial offer, the social and economic benefits of each bid, experience of land or property management, and the extent to which the bids supported council priorities for employment generation and community engagement.
“Five bids have been selected to progress to the next stage, which involves an interview with the project team. Following the interviews, we will recommend one of the bids, and begin the process of due diligence and the legal transfer of the building to the new owner. The four bidders that were not shortlisted have been notified that their bid was not successful.
“Once the selection process has been completed, we will communicate the exciting project that will be at the heart of bringing the Granville Theatre back into use as a hub for community events and the performing arts.”
A survey in 2017 identified some £152,000 would be required for internal works and, in addition, another £250,000 would be needed for roof repairs. The building has continued to deteriorate since that survey.